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American IconsAmerican flags will be flying high on the Fourth of July, and Uncle Sam look-alikes will be out at the fireworks displays. But these symbols aren't the only American icons, which can be found aplenty in the amazing animal species found from sea to shining sea.
From the official symbols, such as the bald eagle, to the animals that conjure a specific piece of Americana, like the grizzly bear, the following animals are true American icons.
Bald EagleSlide 2 of 15
Bald EagleThe quintessential American animal icon. These majestic creatures have a wingspan of about 7 feet (2 meters) and can fly between 75 to 99 mph (121 to 159 kph) in a hunting dive.
Bald eagles are unique to North America and live in coastal and lake areas from Baja California and Florida north to Newfoundland and Alaska.
Bald eagles became endangered due to the combined pressures of habitat destruction, hunting and the use of the poison DDT (used to dust crops), which caused eagle shells to thin and often break before hatching. The ban of DDT and other conservation measures have brought the species back from the brink; the bald eagle was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
The bald eagle became a national emblem in 1785, after a drawing of the eagle was presented to the newly-formed Congress, according the U.S. National Archives. The pick wasn't universally popular though, as Benjamin Franklin preferred another bird. More on that in a bit.Slide 3 of 15
BisonSlide 4 of 15
BisonThe bison, informally called a buffalo, is North America's largest land mammal, with adult males typically weighing up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms). Some 30 million to 60 million of the animals once roamed the Great Plains.
But by the early 1900s, after decades of hunting, bison numbered less than 1,100. In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt and a diverse group of other Americans established the American Bison Society to save the animal from extinction.
Bison have long been a symbol of the American West, and are a key species in the grassland ecosystem. They are also an important cultural symbol to many Native American groups.
The Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups recently launched a campaign to make the bison the United States' national mammal.Slide 5 of 15
Mountain lion (cougar)Slide 6 of 15
Mountain lion (cougar)This creature goes by a multitude of names: mountain lion, cougar, catamount, and puma are just a few.
The species was once one of the most widely distributed in the Western Hemisphere, but only western cougars survive in significant numbers, with eastern cougars presumed extinct though still protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Early American settlers thought the mountain lion was a threat to themselves and their livestock and so hunted and trapped them until the cougar was largely wiped out from the region. Recent evidence, such as tracks and camera trap photos, has suggested that the cougar could be re-establishing itself in parts of its former territory in the Midwest.Slide 7 of 15
Prairie dogSlide 8 of 15